This Cool Tools story begins with a British American entrepreneur named Joshua Browder who grew up in London.  He started driving at the age of 18 and incurred numerous parking tickets.   This got him thinking about the ticket structure in general.  He was non-plussed that the tickets seemed to disproportionately target the elderly and disabled, and he recognized the formulaic nature of the appeal process.  Having taught himself to code by age 12, Joshua created the web-based DoNotPay chatbot to help others navigate the parking ticket appeal process efficiently.   The chatbot is said to have saved motorists in the UK and New York an estimated $5 million dollars.

These days, DoNotPay can assist freely with:

efficiently scheduling your visit to the DMV by pinging for cancelled appointments, expediting TSA PreCheck enrollment, and registering you for the National Do Not Call List (Government Paperwork).

contesting your parking, speeding, red light, and toll booth tickets in New York and California (Traffic Disputes).

generating demand letters for breach of contract, housing issues, or personal injury claims (Customer Service Issues / I am owed $500+).

canceling subscriptions, appealing bank fees, and getting you free food by completing your food surveys (Find Hidden Money).

DoNotPay is only available on current iPhone or iPad (iOS 11.0 or later) devices and is free of charge.  After downloading the app, however, you are required to connect it with your bank account.  (This caused me to pause and investigate further.  DoNotPay uses Plaid for its banking transactions, a platform that is well regarded and is used by venmo.)   DoNotPay requires bank account access to send you any money reclaimed from corporations or the government, to process any voluntary contributions (tips) made in the app, and to process any external government/corporation fees to help you complete your task.

DoNotPay’s most recent feature, DoNotSign, allows users to upload licensing language which the app will then review to highlight warnings and loopholes.  This service, which comes with a monthly fee of $3, debuted in November and is currently only available in the United States.

This story continues as Joshua, now a Stanford graduate, has secured an additional $4.6 million in seed money in 2019 from Silicon Valley investors to further develop DoNotPay. This funding has permitted expansion of services into new jurisdictions, perhaps with one near you.  Although the app refers to itself as “The World’s First Robot Lawyer,” a debatable claim by those familiar with artificial intelligence, it is a contributing player in the access to justice movement.

Woman Reading with TeaLooking for a book to read over the winter holidays? Look no further! Thanks to your fellow CS-SIS and AALL members, here’s a list of the 20 best fiction and non-fiction books they’ve read this year.

Wherever possible, I’ve included links to the book titles at Powell’s, my local independent bookstore, but of course I recommend checking your local library to see if they have a copy to check out.

Happy reading! Let us know in the comments what your favorite read of 2019 was, or tweet with us at @cssis and use the hashtag #amreading.


  1. Chances Are
  2. City of Girls
  3. Daisy Jones & The Six
  4. A Dangerous Collaboration
  5. Dark Age
  6. Emergency Skin
  7. Evvie Drake Starts Over
  8. The Lager Queen of Minnesota
  9. The Love Song of Miss Queenie Hennessy
  10. Mrs. Everything
  11. My Sister, The Serial Killer 
  12. November Road
  13. The Overdue Life of Amy Byler
  14. Patron Saints of Nothing
  15. Sapphire Flames (Hidden Legacy Series, Book 4)
  16. The Servant of the Crown Mystery Series
  17. Summer Frost
  18. The Testaments
  19. Washington Black
  20. Where the Crawdads Sing


  1. Catch and Kill
  2. The Color of Law: A Forgotten History of How Our Government Segregated America
  3. Educated
  4. The Elephant in the Brain: Hidden Motives in Everyday Life
  5. Fly Girls: How Five Daring Women Defied All Odds and Made Aviation History
  6. The Furious Hours
  7. How to Change Your Mind: What the New Science of Psychedelics Teaches Us About Consciousness, Dying, Addiction, Depression, and Transcendence
  8. How to Hide an Empire: A History of the Greater United States
  9. Ladies Who Punch: The Explosive Inside Story of the View
  10. The Library Book
  11. Midnight in Chernobyl
  12. Powerful Teaching 
  13. Reading with Patrick: A Teacher, A Student, and a Life-Changing Friendship
  14. Republic of Lies: American Conspiracy Theorists and Their Surprising Rise to Power
  15. Save Me the Plums
  16. So You Want to Talk About Race
  17. The Trauma Cleaner: One Woman’s Extraordinary Life in the Business of Death, Decay, and Disaster
  18. Weapons of Math Destruction: How Big Data Increases Inequality and Threatens Democracy
  19. Word by Word: The Secret Life of Dictionaries
  20. Year of Yes

Thank you to Susanna Marlowe, Margie Maes, Christine George, Savanna Nolan, Mary Whisner, Alyson Drake, Jennifer Allison, Becky Mattson, Debbie Ginsberg, Jessica Pasquale, and our anonymous readers for their suggestions!


At the Boley Law Library at Lewis & Clark Law School, we frequently use book cover art for our blog posts and social media outreach. Whether it’s our monthly new books blog post, a post highlighting study aids, or featured faculty publications, we’ve found a need for book cover art and an easy way to save multiple book covers in a single image. Our solution? Goodreads.

As an example for this post, I’m using recent or soon-to-be-released Lewis & Clark Law School faculty publications.

First, search for the book title on Goodreads. If it’s not there, you have the option of manually adding the title, including cover art, as well as author(s), ISBN, publisher, number of pages, format, and edition.

add cover art manually

Second, add the title to one of your shelves. I use my Want to Read shelf to store the titles I want to add to my posts.

Third, after you’ve added all of the titles you want to group into one image, choose My Books, then filter by bookshelf. Since all of my titles are saved in the Want to Read, I select My Books, then filter by the Want to Read bookshelf. Another tip: you might need to sort your books in list view by date added, then switch back to image view.

Additional instructions for adding book covers in GoodReads

Now you’re ready to save the image. In my example, I only want the top row of books added (the titles on the second row are from a previous post). I can use a third-party app like Monosnap, or a system-provided screenshot tool to grab this image. On Mac, if you’re running macOS Mojave or later, you can use the Screenshot app. On PC, you can use the Print Screen button.

Below you’ll see the final image from Goodreads that I captured using the Monosnap app.

final book cover art on Goodreads

Questions? Let me know!

The Computing-Services Special Interest Section is made up of awesome law librarians doing interesting things.   The CS-SIS Member Spotlight is designed to shine light on our membership so that we can learn more about each other and stay connected.

CS-SIS Member Spotlight:  Darla Jackson

Technology, Learning, and Teaching

Mastering technology has been a constant part of Darla’s professional career, from learning weapons systems while in the Air Force, to writing about technologies in the Law Library Journal, to teaching Oklahoma bar members how to use law firm practice management systems, to exploring digital initiatives and tech competencies.  This experience led to Darla’s inclusion in the 2019 class of the Fastcase 50.

Learning is another theme in Darla’s story.  While earning her LL.M. in international law from the University of Georgia, Darla reports that she could not have finished her thesis without the help of the UGA law librarians.  These savvy researchers sparked her interest in library school, a program she began after teaching international law at the U.S. Air Force Academy and practicing international law at 9th Air Force/CENTAF at Shaw AFB, South Carolina.  She felt like she found her tribe while in library school and loves being a law librarian.  Speaking of tribes, Darla is continuing her education as she pursues an LL.M. in Indigenous Peoples Law. She also serves as Chair of the AALL Native Peoples Law Caucus, is a member of the Chickasaw and Cherokee Nation Bar Associations, and is an active member of the Oklahoma Bar Association’s Indian Law Section.

Darla’s broad educational background ensures that she has many teaching opportunities.  She has taught foreign and international law, advanced legal research, and is currently teaching an online course as part of OU Law’s International Business Master of Legal Studies program.  And, pictured above, Darla has taught several webinars on technology-related topics for the OBA and ABA. Look for Darla at ABA TECHSHOW in 2020 as she’ll be presenting on the next generation of practice management tools and on risk management and the technologies involved in disaster preparedness.

Hopes for CS-SIS and Personal Interests

As our current chair, Darla believes that one of the most important roles CS-SIS can play is to provide learning opportunities for our members.  Her goal is to expand the educational role of our section.   She also values the assistance she has received from other librarians and hopes CS-SIS can provide the same service to others.  She believes that we are all professionally enhanced by sharing our expertise, and CS-SIS members have much to offer.

Darla has a ton on her plate, but in her free time she’s been reading Killers of the Flower Moon, a non-fiction work that deals with the murders of Osage people killed for their mineral interests.   Next, she wants to read about bias as discussed in Ethical Algorithm:  The Science of Socially Aware Algorithm Design.  Otherwise, she finds guilty pleasure in the mindless watching of Bravo, is an active retweeter, and enjoys listening to NPR.

Thanks to Darla for her willingness to be interviewed for this CS-SIS member spotlight.   If you are interested in interviewing and writing a blog post about a CS-SIS member, please contact Tawnya Plumb at  It is a great opportunity to learn about a fellow member.

In this post, Kristina Alayan talks about the features of the Cool Tool she demoed at the 2019 AALL Annual Meeting. Questions? Contact her at

Do you suffer from inbox (zero) envy?  Do you use your inbox as an (ineffective) to-do list?  If you have attempted and failed to engage in sustainable email management practices, there is a tool that you may want to consider integrating into your suite of productivity tools.  Inbox Pause, or Boomerang, is compatible with both Outlook and Gmail.  Like many productivity tools, there is a freely available version with reduced/basic features and a more robust version for those who are willing and able to pay for them.

The features I use the most are response tracking, recurring emails, return this message, and Inbox Pause advanced.  The response tracking feature allows you to tag an email that will require follow up if you don’t get a response.  The email will return to your inbox on the day/time you’ve selected to remind you the loop needs to be closed, but only if you don’t get a response.  You can pick the exact date/time you’d like the email returned or use one of the preprogrammed options (e.g., tomorrow morning, one week from now).

The recurring email feature is great if there is a (typically tedious, but necessary) reminder that you need to send out.  For some folks, it might be to their staff/students to enter their timesheets.  Like a recurring item in your calendar, you set the parameters once and once it’s saved the email will go out like clockwork (e.g., first of the month, every Monday at 3 pm).  I have found that I like to add myself as a BCC to those emails as a helpful reminder to myself that the communication has gone out.

Return this message allows you to return a message to your inbox when you know you’d like to deal with it.  Maybe there’s a meeting at the end of the week that you need to attend before you can answer the email.  You can respond letting them know, and schedule the email to return to your inbox at the date/time of your choosing.  An additional feature that I’ve been using more regularly allows you to add an internal note to the email when it’s “boomeranged” back to you with any reminders or additional information you need to respond to the email appropriately.

The Inbox Pause feature allows you to manage the flow of emails to your inbox.  Unlike working in your email offline, which most email clients offer, the advanced features of Inbox Pause allow users to identify specifically what time(s) of day email should enter their inbox as well as exceptions.  For example, I have mine scheduled to release emails first thing in the morning, mid-day, and before 5 pm.  I’ve created exceptions so that any emails from my boss as well as emails with certain words (e.g., “urgent) are always delivered immediately.  During the “inbox pause” window, your emails are held temporarily in a folder called “Inbox-Paused.”  The folder isn’t hidden, so you can access it at any time if you want to look for a specific response without going through the trouble of adjusting your features.

The Boomerang customer service feature is responsive and friendly.  When I had an issue, they were quick to resolve it.  The only downside I’ve encountered so far with the Inbox Pause feature is that you can’t adjust it by day or date.  For example, some folks might want their inbox paused while they’re out of the office (e.g., weekends, vacation).  I’ve submitted a request to their team to consider adding this to their options, so we’ll see if they’re able to make those changes in the near future.  Because I currently pay for premium access, some of the tools I described might be restricted or some features may not be available.  For example, the return message option is capped for non-subscribers and unlimited for subscribers.  For academic subscribers, there is a discount and you can trial the premium service to test drive it before committing.

For more information:

A few weeks back our law library decided to use a cookie cake tabling event to raise awareness for Open Access (OA) Week and distribute info about OA publishing and our university’s grant opportunity for creating OA educational materials. What we thought would be a simple request from the nearby bakery turned into a giant mess as we were countlessly argued with about the copyright status of the OA open lock logo. Frustration and in hindsight total hilarity ensued. One thing was clear though: we still have a LONG way to go in understanding and translating what OA is.

Not long after that my family sat down to watch an early Ozu film: The Flavor of Green Tea Over Rice. Although the film’s focus is on the differing attitudes of two generations and arranged marriage, the overarching clash between tradition and modernity is more applicable to OA than one might think. When you talk to people about OA, particularly educational platforms and resources (like textbooks) it can be a polarizing conversation. There is often a complete disconnect where no amount of explanation can resolve the issue – as was evidenced by our repeated conversations with bakery employees and a string of managers. Every logo has a copyright, right?! It doesn’t matter if it is the OA logo.

As with most things in this world, technology is the catalyst for change. We cannot slow down the advances in technology. Our modern tech is transforming our traditional means of education including the methods and the materials. With the rise of terms “learning object” in 1994 (Wayne Hodgins), and “open content” in 1998 (David Wiley) education has been transforming before our very eyes. Some of us have just tried hard to keep our eyes closed… like the couple in the film they were content lying to one another – but of course they were not actually happy.

We haven’t been happy with the rising costs of educational materials for a long time.

Transforming: A Short History of Open Educational Resources

In 2001 MIT’s OpenCourseWare (OCW) project aimed at putting their entire course catalog online. Partnering with Wiley at Utah State University, MIT’s OCW utilizes self-organized communities of interest to set up a distributed peer support network. This is often credited as the start of the OER movement as shortly after in 2002 the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) presents a Forum on the Impact of Open Courseware for Higher Ed. That same year the initial release of Creative Commons (CC) licenses emerges. These CC licenses are the most popular and widely used open licenses for open educational materials.

To be clear, an open educational resource is a publicly accessible material that any user can use, re-use, improve and redistribute. The creation of these resources is usually motivated by an underlying desire to change or improve our existing paradigm of education. Of course there is a ton of business and by extension money perpetuating the existing paradigm which includes traditional publishers, licenses and their products (like textbooks). Some obvious concerns with increasing OA and OER include quality and reliability of resources, as well as the access divide when it comes to supported devices, software and internet connections. OER allows for the potential for more access, but does not guarantee it. Even when the educational resources are completely free for the user, does the user have the necessary technology resources to access it?

Educational resources should be both quality and affordable – dare we suggest free?

Transmuting: A Future of Open Access Textbooks

This is where the platforms enter the playing field. Over the summer I attended an excellent session at CALICon titled Leveraging E-Resources for Affordable Course Materials. The presenters made an excellent case for lowering law students’ economic burdens (something most of our institutions are aiming for) by leveraging existing e-resources. They shared a nice selection of tools for identifying or producing cheaper (if not free) course materials, including a glimpse of their own spreadsheets for identifying comparable cheaper or free texts their school faculty had required in their courses.

One of the simplest strategies they suggested for encouraging faculty to create their own materials (including textbooks) was to use a blog platform. Is there anything a good-ol’ blog can’t do?! It seems too simple to be effective, but essentially the professor would make a blog entry as the course progressed, including their own content as text in the post and linking to freely available articles, media and other resources where appropriate. In the end they had a solid accessible “book” that they could go back into and edit or update as needed. The session also talked heavily about CALI’s eLangdell (no surprise there, it was CALICon afterall!). I followed this rabbit hole of CALI’s commitment to increasing access via computers to a 2012 article (you should read, or re-read if it has been a while) by John Mayer on saving students $150 million.

In addition to reviewing this session (the full video is available for streaming online), here is a list of resources including collections of open textbooks and platforms for creating or submitting open textbooks:

  • CALI’s eLangdell – Press publishes free, open eBooks for legal education.
  • Open Textbook Library – Includes a nice selection of open textbooks, browse by subject and Submit page.
  • OpenStax – Search by subject, completely free books platform and offers a nice app.
  • Open Access Textbooks – Includes info on choosing a license and model for successful OA texts.
  • OER License Generator – An interactive tool to use for when you want to combine multiple open resources with your own work, and then license your work for others to freely use.
  • Model for Success – A 2012 draft model for Open Access Textbooks with a section on software tools.
  • OER Commons – A Public Digital Library of OER for exploring, creating and collaborating to improve ed.
  • LibreTexts – Open textbooks that are freely available to download, edit, and share initiated by UC Davis.
  • OpenEd – Includes more than 300 titles with a browse by subject and links to create open textbooks.
  • Open Textbook Store – A source for ready-to-adopt open textbooks (this is not a publisher).
  • OASIS – Openly Available Sources Integrated Search tool for making the discovery of content easier (search by public domain books, videos, podcasts, learning objects, textbooks, course materials, and interactive simulations).
  • MERLOT – Access to curated online learning and support materials including content creation tools.
  • MOM – Mason OER Metafinder is a real-time advanced search tool for federated OER content.
  • Teaching Commons – High-quality open educational resources from leading colleges and universities, curated by librarians and their institutions.
  • PDXOpen – An open access textbook publishing initiative to support Portland State faculty developing open access textbooks.
  • ScholarWorks@GVSU – OER at Grand Valley State University including teaching tools, textbooks and a libguide.
  • USF Scholar Commons Textbooks – Authors of a higher education textbooks can contribute your open access textbook. They accept all higher education open access textbooks regardless of author affiliation.

At the end of the film The Flavor of Green Tea Over Rice the two primary characters sit down to dinner. The wife, who throughout the film had badgered her husband for mixing his tea in with his rice because it just wasn’t proper, finally tries it herself. She has a moment of realization – it goes beyond this petty matter of the right way to eat your rice. She tells him she finally understands, and he says it is OK. Perhaps we’ll someday reach this moment with OA and our educational materials and methods…that moment where a burden is lifted! Until that day comes, I encourage you to have more conversations with your colleagues about OA and OER. Just yesterday a survey invitation was shared via the Academic Law Libraries SIS. Taking part in this survey is just one small way we can help paint a better picture of OER in legal academia. Here’s the anonymous link to the survey with a deadline of Nov. 22nd:

Open Educational Resources Study

This study consists of a survey to determine if faculty at law institutions are publishing open educational resources or using those created by others to offset the high cost of textbooks and casebooks. To participate in this study you must meet the requirements of both the inclusion and exclusion criteria. Respondents must be employed at a law institution within the United States. There is no risk in being involved in this study as respondents will be anonymous. Subjects may choose not to participate or to withdraw from the study at any time. By continuing this survey, you are giving consent to participate in this study. If you have any questions please reach out to Kayla Reed at or Karen Shephard at

 This study has been approved by the LSU IRB. For questions concerning participant rights, please contact the IRB Chair, Dr. Dennis Landin, 578-8692, or

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The landscape in the Trello looked great, but where on Earth was it?  This video shows how I used Google Image Search to find out.  I also talk about Google Image Search tools, finding free images in Unsplash, searching for icons in The Noun Project, and how to easily add images and icons to Google Slides.


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Joe Lawson, a member of CS-SIS, is the Deputy Director of the Harris County Law Library in Houston,Texas. For some time the Harris County Law Library has been offering recorded CLE programs and handouts via links to YouTube on its website. Most recently, the Harris County Law Library hosted a presentation by Casey Flaherty entitled Legal Tech is not optional.  If you are interested in offering legal tech programs at your law library, Joe would be a great resource to contact to discuss the challenges associated with coordinating such a course of offerings.

If you’re a Gmail user, whether it’s at work or home, consider creating Templates to save time on commonly sent emails. Rather than saving those frequently sent emails in a draft folder, then copying and pasting the text from the draft to the email you want to send, the Templates feature allows you to create and save those frequently sent emails in a few easy steps.

First, make sure Templates are enabled in your Gmail settings. Select the gear icon on the top, right-hand side of the screen, then select Advanced, then choose Enable. You’ll need to save your changes at the bottom of the page. Screenshot of how to enable templates in GmailNext, click on Compose and then draft your email. Instead of clicking send or leaving the email in draft mode, select the More Options button (next to the delete icon) at the bottom of the compose window. Choose Templates, then “Save draft as template.” You’ll be prompted to either overwrite an existing template or save a new one.

Gmail template options
Finally, the next time you need to send this email, click on the Compose button, then select the More Options button (reminder: it’s next to the delete icon), then choose the template from the list under “Insert Template.” You can either send the email as-is or make edits as needed.

What are your favorite time-saving hacks? CS-ers would love to know! Send me an email to be included in a future blog post or comment below.

This post compares the functionality of Lexis’s Courtlink with that of Dockets on Bloomberg Law. When I was asked to write about this topic, it happened that I had just been asked to look for a brief related to a current Supreme Court case—United States v. Sineneng-Smith, No. 19-67 (U.S. filed July 12, 2019), so this seemed like a good place to start.

Round One: Searching for a Known Federal Docket
To begin, I logged into Lexis Advance and navigated to Courtlink through the product switcher menu.

Courtlink’s front page has a drop-down menu to select whether to search for Dockets, Court Documents, or both. Another drop-down menu allows the user to limit jurisdiction. The page also allows the user to enter search terms in docket-related fields. Docket fields on Courtlink include Docket Number, Litigants, Attorney, Law Firm, Judge, Date Filed, and Case Status. Additionally, contextual fields appear when the jurisdictional settings change.

Since I had a docket number for the case, I thought the easiest way to search would be to enter “19-67” in the Docket Number field and search in Dockets.

Screenshot of Lexis Courtlink

This search returned 706 dockets. I saw the case I was looking for listed as #3 on the returned list. The Courtlink interface provides a list of filters on the left that function in the same manner as those on Lexis Advance. These filters include the pre-search filters, (i.e., Jurisdiction, Date, and Case Status) as well as some additional filters, including; Practice Area, Keywords, Litigation Area, Case Type, etc. If you are familiar with the Nature of Suit codes used in PACER, you will have to apply a federal jurisdictional filter to make the Nature of Suit filter visible ( Selecting federal jurisdiction also opens several other contextual fields related to specific federal courts and case types. Selecting a state filter will also open contextual fields related to that state’s courts plus related federal courts.

Lexis Courtlink results
To compare, I logged into Bloomberg Law and selected Dockets from the dashboard. Bloomberg’s search page includes the same options for limiting a search as Courtlink. Rather than using contextual fields, Bloomberg hides some of the search fields in expanding menus. If you are searching within documents, Bloomberg also includes Docket Key for a limited number of U.S. District Courts. (Specific coverage for Docket Key is available here: Docket Key permits the user to limit the search to certain types of documents (complaint, brief, etc.). Although contextual, the Docket Key field is still visible to the user when unavailable. To duplicate the search on Courtlink, we’ll search only dockets and put 19-67 in the Docket # field.

Bloomberg docket search

Bloomberg returned 458 results. On the left, Bloomberg includes filters for jurisdictions, courts, federal Nature of Suit numbers, Bankruptcy chapters, and dates. Since the case I was looking for was not within the first ten results on the list, I applied the U.S. Supreme Court filter. After, there was only one item on the list, United States v. Sineneng-Smith.

Bloomberg docket results list

I quickly found the docket for United States v. Sineneng-Smith using both systems. I prefer Bloomberg’s approach to fields and filters. When reviewing the pre-search screen initially, I could not tell that Courtlink included a means to filter by Nature of Suit codes, and I had to experiment with jurisdictional filters to make it appear. On post-search filtering, while Courtlink had several subject-area filters which could serve a similar purpose as Nature of Suit, as with pre-search filtering, the Nature of Suit filter only appears when federal jurisdiction is selected.

Round Two: The Docket Sheets
Having found United States v. Sineneng-Smith, I opened the docket sheet in both systems.

Both systems include information about filing dates, litigants, attorneys, when the docket sheet was last updated in the system, information about the case in the lower court, and each docket entry includes the date and text describing what occurred. Beyond this, the coverage differs.

Bloomberg and Courtlink docket sheets
For this docket, on Bloomberg, there are about twice as many entries on the docket sheet. Most of the additional entries represent separate documents for the same act (Main Document, Proof of Service, Certificates). The Courtlink version did not have links to related documents at all. In a few cases, items are present on the Bloomberg version that are completely absent from Courtlink. This discrepancy is because Bloomberg’s version was last updated today while the Courtlink version was last updated nineteen days ago; at present, there is no way to update the docket on Courtlink.

Comparing Bloomberg and Courtlink docket sheets

After seeing a docket sheet on Courtlink with no linked documents, I went back to the search page, changed my filter to search for only documents, and searched for Sineneng-Smith. This search returned 214 results. Adding the U.S. Supreme Court filter reduced the number of documents to four. The list included two briefs and two petitions for writ of certiorari. Strangely, the briefs included a document not associated with a docket sheet entry.

I asked my Lexis representative whether there were supposed to be related documents linked to dockets within Courtlink. She responded that since Courtlink is a new addition to the Lexis Advance platform, not all Courtlink documents have been fully integrated. She speculated all dockets would eventually be linked to documents. She also sent me a different example showing a docket with linked documents, Trump v. Clifford, 2:18cv2217, (C.D. Cal., filed Mar. 16, 2018). I accessed this docket in both systems to continue comparing features.

On both Courtlink and Bloomberg, this docket appears to have the same entries. Both systems appear to have links to all available documents. The one advantage I found that Courtlink has over Bloomberg is that it permits the user to sort the docket sheet by any column while Bloomberg only permits the user to reverse the order. On the other hand, advantages of Bloomberg include: allowing users to collapse parts of the docket screen, includes links to related opinions, has the ability to track dockets, and perhaps most importantly, has a big friendly update docket button. (In Courtlink’s help pages, I found directions for both tracking and updating dockets. The directions for tracking told me to click on the bell icon and the directions for updating told me to click on the Update Now button. Unfortunately, I saw neither the bell icon nor the Update Now button on either of the docket sheets I viewed.)

Bloomberg Update Docket feature

For docket sheet access, while I liked Courtlink’s ability to sort the docket by any column, it did not appear to have features like tracking or the ability to update a docket. Bloomberg’s docket sheet interface seemed to be put together better. Once Courtlink implements the features promised in its help pages, it will probably compare better.

Round Three: Searching Dockets
The first difference between the search interfaces is that on Courtlink, one is limited to keyword searching while searching Dockets & Documents. The only pre-search filter available is a jurisdictional filter called Within. If one selects Court Documents, a Date Filed filter is added and a Nature of Suit filter may appear if federal jurisdiction is selected. There does not appear to be additional search fields or filters available.

On Bloomberg, many more filters and fields are available pre-search. These are the same as described above.

Since the two do not compare exactly, I ran a comparison search in Court Documents on Courtlink and in Dockets and Documents on Bloomberg. I set both date filters to return items from within one year. I then ran the following search on both systems: “evolving standards of decency” AND “felony murder”. This search should return very recent dockets and documents involving Eighth Amendment arguments related to felony murder cases.

Courtlink returned 15 related documents and gave options to filter results by category (document type), jurisdiction, practice area, attorney, law firm, most cited statute, pre-selected keywords, judge, litigation area, and search within results. One can also create an alert based on the search. I made several attempts on different days to download the entire list using different formats and two different browsers; unfortunately, every one of these attempts failed to produce a file. (Alleged format options include pdfs, different word processors, and an Excel file that includes metadata for the documents on the list.) I was able to go into the individual documents on the list and download those.

At the bottom left of the list that Bloomberg returned, are two radio buttons marked Docket and Entries. Selecting Docket returns dockets that have your keywords contained within the dockets and associated documents that Bloomberg already has in its system (i.e., it does not extend the search to Pacer). For this search, Bloomberg returned 25 dockets. The Docket results have only the date as an option for post-search filtering, though there is an option for Edit Search that reopens the search page with your previously entered search. Selecting Entries returns dockets and associated documents within jurisdictions covered by Bloomberg’s Docket Key system. This search returned four items in Entries. The Entries results page includes filters for Jurisdictions, NoS, Filing Type, and Date. The two lists do not necessarily overlap one another, so you’ll want to review both lists when doing research.

The results list options on Bloomberg include Create Alert, CSV Results, and various list downloads (formats include, pdf, rtf/doc, and Excel). The Excel list download includes the same information displayed on the results screen. The CSV results are a little different. They include the same information as the results, but that information is broken down into different columns. It includes among other things party names, a link to the docket on Bloomberg, and attorney names. This format could be useful for doing empirical research on cases currently being litigated.

Since so many of the features on Courtlink do not yet appear to work, I would have to give Round Three to Bloomberg as well. I will be interested in seeing how the download features would work in Courtlink, in particular, the Excel file download, once they actually operate.

Written by CS-SIS Blog Committee member Artie Berns, Research & Emerging Technologies Librarian at Western New England University School of Law Library.